10 examples: When communication about Swedish aid made a difference

Success story - 2023-01-19
The Swedish government is making major cuts in development aid. The most affected is the part that monitors and investigates our decision-makers and increases their knowledge about democracy, human rights and effective development cooperation. Here are 10 examples of when support to such communication projects has made a difference.

A safe workplace and better working conditions

The Bangladesh Accord was launched after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013, killing 1100 workers. After the incident, a binding agreement was signed between companies and the government. Sanctions would be imposed if the agreement was violated. When it expired in 2021, local and international civil society joined forces and demanded improved working conditions in the textile industry. The Swedish organization Fair Action was able to put pressure on Swedish company H&M and six months later the agreement was renewed. It guaranteed two million workers safer working conditions.

Testimonials to a truth commission

After the peace agreement was signed in Colombia between the government and the FARC guerrilla, a truth commission was started. The commission included the participation of refugees, diaspora and victims of the conflict and its organizations. In Sweden, The Swedish Foundation for Human Rights coordinated the collection of testimonies from the Colombian diaspora in Sweden. They helped the truth commission to include voices outside of Colombia in the pursuit of an inclusive peace process.

Contributed to stopping Swedish aid to the Belarusian state

Sweden and the EU have provided aid to Belarusian state actors in exchange for Belarus' taking steps towards democracy. Östgruppen, a Swedish organization that works with civil society, has for several years pointed out that the development aid must be redirected to other actors who work for human rights and democracy in Belarus. It was only in connection with the popular uprising in 2020 that the Swedish government and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs listened and aid to state actors was frozen.  

Preem withdrew its application

Friends of the Earth worked hard together with private individuals and environmental organizations to stop Preem's expansion in Lysekil, Sweden. Something that would mean a doubling of Preem's carbon dioxide emissions. In 2020, Preem decided to withdraw its application to expand its fossil fuel refining.

Helped create public opinion in the Yemen peace process

Operation 1325 conducts development cooperation with organizations in Yemen for women's inclusion in peace processes. They handed over a petition urging the Swedish government, which was a mediator, to then Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde. She thanked the organization for the information and the work they had done.  Ann Linde said that the issue of Yemen is difficult to attract attention to. That is why she was grateful for the petition. Because of the public opinion on this matter, we contribute to Sweden being able to put higher pressure on international actors.

Contributed to the Swedish government changing development aid in Myanmar

When the military forcibly seized power in Myanmar in 2021, the resistance movement asked the international civil society for solidarity. The Swedish Burma Committee listened and started to pressure the Swedish government to redirect aid so that it would not directly or indirectly reach the military. As well as to work for the EU to impose sanctions on the military's economic assets. Both demands were met.

Provided knowledge about the global pandemic

Civil society is a major source of information and knowledge. One of many examples: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned to Internationella kvinnoförbundet för Fred och Frihet to find out how women's organizations in the world handled the new situation.

Lectured to thousands of students on the tobacco industry

Between 2019-2021, A non smoking generation held lectures for a total of 30,500 students. Most people know about the harmful effects of tobacco, but few are aware of the exploitation, child labour and environmental degradation which surrounds the tobacco industry. Advocating for young adults to give up tobacco benefits Sweden's public health and is a step towards a more just and sustainable world.

Students got to meet and ask questions to exiled journalists

1,350 students testify that the opportunity to directly meet, listen to and ask questions to an exiled journalist creates a strong commitment to free media in Sweden. It provides knowledge about how free media and conditions for journalists to be able to work are linked to the development of democracy and rights in a country. A result of the work by Reporters Without Borders.

Stopped cooperation with the alcohol giant

Thanks to protests made by Swedish representatives at the Global Fund's board meeting, a collaboration with Heineken was suspended. The negative impact of alcohol on public health is well documented. The Global Fund supports work against diseases such as HIV, malaria and TB, and a collaboration with one of the world's largest beer producers had legitimized an actor whose product helps spread these diseases. An important work done by the IOGT-NTO movement.

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